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Spring Snapshot: White Sox sensing opportunity in AL Central

Big League Stew

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Every day in spring training until we finish the entire league, Big League Stew takes a brief capsule look at each team we visit in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Next stop at Camelback Ranch is White Sox camp, where Mark Buehrle(notes) and A.J. Pierzynski(notes) prepare for their seventh season together. It's been six years since they won the World Series.

CHICAGO WHITE SOX

2010 RECORD: 88-74, second place in AL Central

BIGGEST ACQUISITION: Do you think it's Adam Dunn(notes)? His power numbers, already a strength, ought to jump in the right-field jet stream at U.S. Cellular Field.

BIGGEST DEPARTURES: Longtime closer Bobby Jenks(notes) and right-hander J.J. Putz(notes) were strong in the back of the bullpen. The top righties now are Jesse Crain(notes) and Sergio Santos(notes).

FIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE WHITE SOX

1. Will Jake Peavy's(notes) shoulder stay attached all season? Peavy came over from the Padres to be an ace, but he was inconsistent in 17 starts before going down for the season because of a detached latissimus dorsi muscle near his right shoulder. It sounds scary, and the Sox have been cautious about the pace of Peavy's return. But, if healthy — there's a phrase Peavy is getting sick of hearing — he's one of the top starters in the majors. He reportedly threw on his own back in Alabama on Saturday (Peavy was home for the funeral of his grandmother).

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2. What are they doing with Chris Sale(notes)? A first-round pick in 2010, the whisper-thin lefty with a funky delivery rocketed through the minors and became one of the team's most effective pitchers in the second half. Sale throws in the mid-90s and projects as a starter in the long run, but the Sox say they are starting him in the bullpen as a setup man.

3. Will Carlos Quentin(notes) and Gordon Beckham(notes) rebound? Quentin was actually decent, save for a low batting average, in the first half. But he bottomed out after the All-Star break, while Beckham did the opposite (.877 OPS). If both had put together fully credible seasons, the White Sox probably would have won the AL Central. Note: Manager Ozzie Guillen pronounces his name "Gordon Bacon."

4. Who's on third? After Mark Teahen(notes) disappointed and got hurt, the Sox got astonishing production from Omar Vizquel(notes) — particularly on defense — given that he's 43 years old. Both have returned for 2011, but the Sox should hope 23-year-old Brent Morel(notes) gets the job. He hit .322/.359/.480 between Class AA and AAA, numbers typical for his minor league career. He also looked sharp on defense in a brief September trial with the big club.

5. Is Ozzie Guillen the most entertaining manager in the majors? Undoubtedly. Follow his Twitter feed for unique declarations and observations, generally silly comments and pictures of him eating Jell-O.

Follow Dave on Twitter throughout his spring training journey — @AnswerDave

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